adding the -ist

last saturday, i had the pleasure of partying with the ladies and gents of sew la, in celebration of sarai's much loved book.  sweets of all kinds, both in the form of food and peeps, were in abundance: trice.  hashi.  mena. christine.  devon.  mk.  sarai, of course (whose name i absolutely butchered).  exquisitely beautiful women all. but i'm at odds on what to call them.

you see, there's a discussion going on over at craftsy, and it's about to come to fisticuffs.

over adding an -ist to the word sew.

fascinating stuff.  in a world where new words are added to webster's every day (words like soul patch and unibrow) why are we getting all up in a tizzy (a highly excited and distracted state of mind) over adding a suffix to a noun?  it's like we've never seen a kooky word before.  we're all discombobulated over it.  sorry, but seamstress seems humdrum to me.  mossy, if you will.  and by mossy i mean dated.  and by dated i mean the first known use of the word was back in 1598.   

cobwebs aside, it also specifically applies to a woman, where its counterpart, tailor, has historically been the male side of sewing.  and wouldn't you say society has thought of the tailor as the superior, erm, for lack of a real word, sewist?  would we call that... sexist?  let's face it, you don't go to the seamstress's shop to get your important alterations done, you go to the tailor's (well, i don't, i go to my living room).  per webster's definitions: "a woman whose occupation is sewing"  versus  "a person whose occupation is making or altering outer garments".  at least they've made it gender neutral in the case of the tailor-- but do you consider yourself "one who sews", or "one who sews garments"?  let's go a little deeper: do you "style with trim straight lines and finished handwork", do you "fit with clothes", do you "make or adapt to suit a special need or purpose"?  that's all tailor, baby.  

or would you describe yourself as a "woman whose occupation is sewing?"

no wrong answer, just asking.   but for me, smackdown: tailor. 

smackdown is a real word.

mais, i don't want to be called a tailor as much as i don't want to be called a seamstress.  talk about cobwebs, tailor dates back to the 13th century.  that's not the point, i adore the word frock, date isn't really the issue. gender isn't really the issue.  i want a word that fits my idea of sewing, which is not better than your idea, which is not specific to some PYT's idea of sewing, which is not meant to be exclusive or cliqueish.  (yes, i added an ish to clique.  cliqueish is not a word.  but -ish is a suffix.)  

you know what?  let's get into the use of PYT.  it's not a real word either.  when michael jackson crooned it, i think he meant it in a nice way.  but let's define the way i've seen it used in some posts and comments of sewing blogs: le derogatory.  

pretty:  appearing or sounding pleasant or nice but lacking in strength, force, manliness, purpose or intensity, 
young:  being in the first or early stage of life, growth or development
thing:   an object or entity not capable of being designated. 

one of the best and brightest things about sewing blogs is the support of the community, wouldn't you say?  and the supreme knowledge that  All.  Women.  Are.  Beautiful.   physical evidence of this was in full effect at the sew la shindig.  all of our fit issues, colors, weights, ages, heights, we celebrate them.  our shapes: we study them, we dissect them, and in doing so we come to see more beauty.  we manipulate fabric to embellish our unique forms perfectly, we embrace our differences.  but this PYT, this girl (she's not a woman), is a weak immature object, her (societal definition of) prettiness being her first, negative, and excluding quality.  i would assume she's also a bit dim.  and even if her intelligence is not being called into question, she's still a thing.  a thing to be dismissed.

now this  is a divisive word.  and let me repeat, it's not a real word.   


-ist: suffix

one that performs an action, one that makes or produces a thing
one that specializes in an art or science or skill

there are botanists, artists, violinists, ventriloquists, cellists, philanthropists, archaeologists, geologists, psychiatrists, pianists, hedonists, novelists, guitarists, scientists (many of whom sew), why is it such a stretch to be a sewist?

yes, i know it's not a word.  but in a land where ginormous and crunk are firmly ensconced, sewist can't be too far behind.

to be honest i'm not that obsessed about it.  i find the debate intriguing and funny, they're just words, PYT included, and in the grand scheme of Big Bad Words they are so very innocuous.  when all is said and done there are much more pressing matters, pun fully intended.  i like sewist.  i also think sewasaurus rex is pretty frigging cool (ruggy came up with that one).  but i'm happy to include seamstress, tailor, sewer, crafter, sewing artist, and sewologist in my lexicon.  i'm happy to include you and whatever you'd like to be called.  'cause i like you.  you're nifty.

so?  what shall i call you when you come over for cocktails?


beastly tasks

there are many pregnant life forms that i have a personal affection for roaming around at the moment, and yesterday one of them popped.  

this meant i had to make good on some promises.  some promises involving sewing for others.  including... children.

you might recall, the last experience i had in this genre did not turn out so well.  no, that's a lie, i was recently sent a text of The Child wearing the six hour apron and smiling sweetly whilst baking cookies with her grandmother. clearly she was plotting her takeover of the world.  fine by me; having hand stitched her Apron Of Doom, i'm on the list of keepers in the New Society.  at least i think so... the last time i hung out with her she pronounced me a Bad Girl.  but that could be a plus in her book.

even so, sewing the thirty odd straight lines of a nursing cover and getting the needle around the armhole curve of a newborn jumper ain't my idea of a rocking good time.  so i decided to change up the scenery.

sewing poolside?  why would i NOT.  it's totally safe to have a hot iron, digital camera, iphone, headset and featherweight hooked up to a strip outlet on a couple of wobbly tray tables two feet away from the water...       it's not like i was drinking or anything.

oh wait.

concerned by my furrowed brow, ruggy made me a cocktail.  and by that i mean he made it up.  he calls it the moodmaker (or the moodmender, we're still deciding) thusly dubbed because my mood had fallen.  surprisingly, not because i was sewing for others, but because we couldn't be around the others i was sewing for.  it has bourbon and morello cherries and amaretto and luv.

congratulations, brother beast and co.  mama beast, you will be happy to know your evil "gift" bag of fabric made the trek with me and will soon make the trek back, transformed.  and with just a little moodmaker on it.  


doctor doctor

one thing i ADORE about los angeles is the vintage and thrift shopping scene.  even though i aim to sew most of what i wear, i can't resist.  for some reason, they're not smoking the crack like they do in new york.  hands down, in this category, the City Of Angels has the Big Apple beat.  and this, peeps, is an Important.  Category.  it makes for like 30 percent of the final grade.

and my god, the colors.  there's so much color to be had that many stores will arrange their goods by hue.  jewel tones!  primaries!  pastels!  perhaps the rainbow is here because no one's wearing it out there?  i don't care.  more for ME.

this schizophrenic baby fell smack dab in the middle of the color wheel.  here is the patient in its past life as a dress. it had a hefty price tag of 15 bucks, actually a bit high for LA vintage, especially considering much of the store was on sale for a dollar.  the owner had cut the price in half and was already lowering it to ten when i interrupted with a "yes" (must learn to stop interrupting), but that's cool.  i gave the extra five, she's seeking out a new storefront and i'm happy to enable.

what attracted me to the dress was the pleated skirt.  lady danburry had just churned out another gorgeous creation that i couldn't live without (yet could also not find the pennies for) and this seemed the perfect consolation prize.  but the dress itself was so pretty!  how could i perform this surgery in good conscience?  first, do no harm.  second, have a cocktail.  third, DO IT.

i simply hacked off the top of the dress and took in the center back seam, like you do:

but wait... what about the nice rectangular strip of newly dissected fabric... maybe i can interface it and make it into a belt... wear it with my coveted high waist six dollar forever 21 jeans (i know, don't hate, on so many levels):

BUT WAIT... that top is kinda cool... maybe i can baby hem it... give the cheapo gold button a transplant... and use my new belt...


healer, heal thyself.

i felt so very accomplished with this homage to the lady.  i look forward to the day i'll have a real danburry in my greedy little paws.  which could be soon.  mrs ham, an equally delightful blogger you should know, is hosting a giveaway of a danburry creation!  just hop on over to her hammy blog, aptly named the happy hour, and comment to win your pick of ANYTHING from the lady's shop. 

now look.  yes, i get another chance to win by posting it here, but really what i want to do is introduce a few peeps that don't know these awesome gals to each other.  seriously.  oh lovely peeps, meet more lovely peeps. oh lookee there!  it's wine thirty, a virtual toast to you all!

edit 7/17/13: it seems lady danburry and her blog/shop, thinking in shapes, are MIA...lady, i hope that you and yours are well...


a kalkatroonaan croquis

so i was thinking.  we're going through all the trouble of getting into our skivvies and angling the camera and cropping and tracing and obsessing, why not have a little fun (read: booze) with it?

le coquette croquis.

le pantalon croquis.
("oh, is that my ass?" shot appropriately named by nettie, patent pending.  quelle naked!  after my muppet bombshell shoot, i figure you've seen the goods.)

le couture croquis.

okay, yeah, i did a straight one too.  this shot was actually the reason i finally broke down and did it; specifically alessa's body proportioned croquis got me off my ass and into my skivvies.  it went south from there.  

i used lladybird's awesome tutorial to make the oonies, but with photoshop.  if you have it, you can follow her steps, but use the magic pen to select your outline, and photo filters (poster edges and stamp) to finish the job. i'll add a little tutorial to this if anyone's interested, but as photoshop is a rare creature these days i'm not sure anyone else is using it...  

now really, WHO KNOWS where the top of my head is, but i marked where i thought it was hiding and barreled on.  my true waist is almost a head short, which seems right, but i'm not sure i've got the high & mid hip marked properly.  i think i'm equal proportions in terms of my top half/bottom half ratio.   i'm like six and a quarter heads out of eight, which actually seems tall to me (the 8/8 hash mark at the bottom marks the start of the 8th head, the end mark was so far away from m'feets i didn't include it.)

et maintenant, i want to make a book of the funky ones and start sketching my own stuff!  of course it would be easier to sketch on the straight version, but we don't stand around perfectly straight all day.  oona, we also don't pose like a trollop all day.  no, smartypants, no we don't.  but we do after a few manhattans.

the only way i can think of is ditto copies and a three ring binder.  but what i really want is a fancy spiral sketchbook with ruled lines on the side of every page for notes.  cause i HATE it when my notes go slopey. anybody got an idea on how i could make that happen?

EDIT: so many wonderful ideas!  thankyaverymuch, i'm researching like a banshee.  and a tutorial is coming, i swear it won't take as long as the last one.    


on trying to fit in

oh hai.

the other day, ruggy and i went to our favorite coffee shop in all the land, silverlake's intelligentsia.  non, it doesn't sound right to call it a coffee shop, it's a coffee gallery.  artist baristas and hip things of all ages join to celebrate caffeine.

non, that's not right either.  one doesn't celebrate here (and by here i mean los angeles), one is cool and aloof and decidedly bored with it all.  for the most part, it's not stylish to show your colors, inside and out.  as we sipped our macchiato and chai latte with delight (the cup was the size of my HEAD), i took note of the line of angels waiting their turn.  it looked like someone took the desaturation brush in photoshop, bumped the level up to a thousand, and gave them all a good swipe.  i'm telling you, not a color to be seen.  the clothing was bland, the mood was beige.

i might be the brightest thing in here, i said.  ruggy's sarcastically raised eyebrow assured me that i was.  

(at the time i was not wearing this top.  but i was wearing a maxi skirt striped in lemon yellow, royal purple, hot pink and lime green; a chartreuse cardigan, and a sky blue tee.  speaking of colorful garments, this top was a creation meant for debi's second sew grateful, which i completely missed.  i used vogue 7016 from lisette's amazing box of patterns, and the fabric and button are gifts from ruggian sister, she who has carte blanche in my sewing room.  i used self made bias for the neck closure, and overlocked rolled hems.  which apparently, i've been using on EVERYTHING.  ellie was hiding a little bar from me which produces lovely flat serged edges.   found that out four days before i left her in new york.  awesome.)

what is it that makes us afraid to show our colors?  why would you want to hide your glee over the perfect cup of coffee, the excitement over good conversation, the bright flamingo pink you love to wear?

i'm not saying everyone should wear flamingo pink.  washed out midnight blue is perfectly lovely.  but washing out your personality for the sake of looking cool is Fucked.  Up.    

i turn my back on you, aloof.

speaking of joy, i was pretty psyched when i downloaded this shot.  i was all i'm totally channeling casey here.  i've got bloggers on the brain, tonight i'm heading back out to the lake of silver for sarai's party at sew LA, and then hopefully catching another round of new friend goodness after.  are you going?  if you are, i will say hello with unabashed glee and in technicolor!

what color have you got on today?


my featherweight can sew ANYTHING

most interesting google search that lead four people to this blog:

"my elbows are dark."

okay.  c'est true.  they are.  so are my knees.  i'm currently employing a salt scrub twice a day in an effort to annihilate a layer of skin on the pointy parts of my limbs.  (and if the four of you out there found a solution that doesn't involve bleach, let a girl know, 'kay?)

other peeps with an eye on this blog: some wicked weather fairies.  temperatures dropped 20 degrees after i mouthed off about poolside shoots.  sorry los angeles, my bad.  we had a chilly valentine's day with roast chicken and buffy the vampire slayer.  last night, after a two-and-a-half-hour sixteen mile drive (truly, i was certain i would never see the outside of a car again), i arrived home to the scent of rosemary and thyme drenched in chicken fat, and my featherweight had been decorated with tulips and chocolates.  shortly after, my man was decorated in a da beard hat, which he hasn't taken off since last night.

i hope you had a wonderful valentine's day!


there's a light

this was the early morning sunshine in our wintry tree, the day we left new york.  i thought the light on the branches was breathtaking. 

yeah, well.  it's really hard to write a post about the glory of a boxed-in crack-of-dawn view of a barren january tree blocked by iron bars and dirty snow when the sun is shining directly in your face as you sit poolside in the 80 degree air.  

(besides which, the screen is just so glary in the LA sunshine.  they oughta have an app for that.)

sorry for the absence, we've been unpacking and getting used to the new digs.  california is EVER so much nicer when you swap joints with someone who has a pool, jacuzzi, and sauna.  here's hoping our wee tree and wine refrigerator make up for it. this weekend, i'll be attempting a poolside Real Live Photo Shoot as evidence of the four tons of garments i made before leaving the city, three for the worldwide party that is debi's sew grateful celebration and one of which is an oona does it (!).  but don't hold me to it.  the sun could get in the way.

don't hate me too much, i forgot my adjustable low shank zipper foot in new york.